Getting Started at MSU

To help get started for each semester at Michigan State University (MSU), ask yourself:

  • Which courses did you enjoy most last semester? Why?
  • Which courses did you find challenging last semester? Why?
  • What kept you from doing your best (i.e., work, friends, health, finances, sports)?

Before Classes Start

MSU-students-crosswalk-sun-flareGet familiar with different MSU tools and your schedule before classes start for the semester.

Review your class schedule.

Determine if you need to make any adjustments like drops, adds, substitutions or course swaps. If changes are needed, email or call your academic advisor to help.

If you don’t plan to change your schedule, purchase the required course materials.

  • Hold onto receipts in case you need to return any materials.
  • Consider purchasing planners or calendars to help manage course assignments. MSU D2L and Spartan Mail also have calendaring system you could use.

Log into D2L, the online course management system.

See if your instructors have loaded their syllabi into D2L in advance of the first day of classes.

Review course materials like the table of contents, chapter conclusions and study questions to become familiar with the course before the first day.

Check your Spartan Mail, your official MSU email.

See if any instructors are requesting any work prior to class via your official MSU email.

Consider setting up a folder in your email for each course to help organize related messages.

Plan out the hours in your semester.

  1. Total credit hours in your semester _____ x 2 hours for studying outside of class for each credit hour = _____
  2. Hours of sleep you need _____ x 7 days =_____
  3. Hours of week for exercise, recreation and/or relaxing _____ x 7 days = _____
  4. Hours of work per week _____ x travel time _____ = _____
  5. Time it will take to get to campus and class each day (including traffic, parking, walking, biking, bus) _____ x 5 days = _____
  6. Hours of personal maintenance (including eating, showering, dressing) _____ x 7 days = _____

Add up planning steps 1-6.

There are 168 hours in a week. If your total hours exceeds 168, then plan your schedule to be more realistic.

First Week of Classes

Your first week of classes can set you up up for semester success.

Read the syllabus for each course you're taking.

A course syllabus is one way to help you stay on top of coursework. It also will include ways to connect with your instructors, outlines the semester, and provides procedures on course grading and evaluation. It can also include a schedule of deadlines, tests and quizzes.

Go to class whether it's in person, online or hybrid.

Instructors rely on the first week of classes to help set the expectations for the course. Setting up a routine for consistent class attendance is important.

Determine how you can be most successful during class periods.

If it's an in-person class, sit in the area that gives you the best learning advantage. Make sure you can clearly hear and see any class presentations and screens.

If it's an online or hybrid class, determine what environment works best for you to be engaged and attentive. Also explore the different ways to access course content and interact with your peers and instructors.

If you are struggling with a class format, talk with your instructor and contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities for different resources or accommodations.

Read assigned materials before the next class.

If no reading is assigned, revisit the syllabus to know what to expect for the next class.

Write down academic goals for each course.

These goals could include certain grades, meeting deadlines, talking with instructors, and class attendance. Also include the steps you’ll take to achieve the goal. Read study and test tips.